NEW YORK, N.Y. – SEPTEMBER 17, 2015 – The New York Liberty will open the 2015 WNBA Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on Friday night, when it hosts the Washington Mystics in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at 7 p.m.
WATCH: MSG Network/NBATV
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ALL-TIME: New York leads, 42-28
ALL-TIME PLAYOFFS: New York leads, 4-1
2015 SEASON: Washington, 3-1
LAST MEETING: WASH 82, NYL 55 (September 11, 2015)
Friday night’s game will be broadcast on MSG Network and NBATV, before the series shifts to Washington on Sunday afternoon, and then if necessary, back to New York for a decisive game three on Tuesday, Sept. 22.
New York enters the postseason with the top overall seed for the first time in franchise history, having wrapped up the regular season with a franchise-best 23-11 overall mark. Washington finished fourth in a competitive Eastern Conference at 18-16, but the Mystics found some success against the Liberty, winning 3-of-4 regular season matchups.
However, there is an argument to be made that much of the outcome from the regular season games was impacted by unique circumstances. The first two meetings came in early June, when the Liberty was still without Epiphanny Prince.
The July 9 matchup marked Prince’s New York debut, but she came off the bench in a game the Liberty won in overtime. Last week, Washington controlled the action, but two days prior, New York had clinched home court advantage, and Charles and Prince combined to play just 29 minutes.
These are the top two defensive teams in the league, and the Mystics have been effective in limiting the Liberty, holding New York to just 63.8 ppg in four meetings. Stefanie Dolson (11.8), Kara Lawson (11.7) and Ivory Latta (11.3) are all averaging double figures against the Liberty, although Lawson has missed the last eight games with a back injury and the Mystics went just 3-5 during that stretch.
A key for New York will be getting its two offensive weapons in sync, because Washington may not have the scorers to keep up if Charles and Prince are both on point. While there is no question that the Liberty’s defensive intensity will be there, New York will have to lock down on the perimeter. In four games against Washington, the Liberty allowed the Mystics to nail 31 3-pointers, as they shot .383 from long distance. Conversely, New York averaged fewer then two 3-pointers per game, a sizable scoring differential from the outside.
The Mystics’ personnel do create quite a few matchup issues because of their versatility. Dolson can score in the paint, but has the same ability as Charles to step back and hit a 20-foot jumper. Emma Meesseman, who earlier this year was named an All-Star for the first time can score from the paint or the perimeter. Latta has been dangerous against New York all season, shooting better than 40 percent from three.
LIBERTY PLAYOFF BITES
- The Liberty is making its 13th appearance in the WNBA Playoffs and its first since 2012.
- New York’s all-time playoff record is 23-37.
- Friday night’s game will be the first WNBA Playoffs contest at Madison Square Garden since Sept. 5, 2010.
- New York enters the postseason with home court throughout the playoffs for the first time in its history. The Liberty posted the best record in the Eastern Conference for the first time since 2002.
- The Liberty’s 23 wins set a new franchise regular season record.
- New York is 4-1 all-time against the Mystics in the postseason, but has not played Washington since 2002.
MORE LIBERTY PLAYOFF NOTES
- The Liberty is 16-10 all-time in WNBA Playoffs home games, and this will be the first postseason game at Madison Square Garden since 2010.
- New York is 7-5 all-time in its first game of the postseason.
- New York is 9-13 all-time in its first game of a WNBA Playoff series.
- The Liberty has won both playoff series with the Mystics, taking a 2-0 win in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2000 and a 2-1 win in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2002.
- New York has won the Eastern Conference Title three times (1999, 2000, 2002) and been to the WNBA Finals four times (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002).
BIG TIME EXPERIENCE
There are several Liberty players that have extensive playoff experience, and four have won a WNBA Championship. Swin Cash has played in 49-career postseason games and won three WNBA Championships, two with Detroit (2003 & 2006) and one with Seattle (2010). Tanisha Wright was teammates with Cash during the Seattle Storm’s 2010 championship season. Candice Wiggins captured a title as a member of the Minnesota Lynx in 2011, and Sugar Rodgers was on the Lynx 2013 championship squad. Head Coach Bill Laimbeer has won three WNBA Championships, all three as the head coach of the Detroit Shock (2003, 2006, 2008).
Additionally, Essence Carson has been to the playoffs with the Liberty in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012, Epiphanny Prince helped Chicago reach the WNBA Finals last season, and also played in the postseason in 2013. Tina Charles made back-to-back playoff appearances in Connecticut (2011, 2012), and Avery Warley-Talbert was also a member of the Sky’s 2013 playoff team.
FIRST MEETING OF THE SEASON WITH WASHINGTON?
Washington won the regular season series with New York 3-1, and the Mystics’ defense has been stout, holding the Liberty to just 63.8 ppg. However, the argument can be made the teams have not faced one another as New York is currently constituted. The first two meetings came in early June, when the Liberty was without Epiphanny Prince. The July 9 meeting was the first Prince played for New York, but she came off the bench in a game the Liberty won in overtime. Last week, Washington controlled the action, but two days prior, New York had clinched home court advantage and Charles and Prince combined to play just 29 minutes.
#BURNBRIGHT LACE UP FOR THE LIBERTY
As the only women’s professional sports team in NYC, the Liberty has ignited a movement that is bigger than basketball, and we hope it inspires the next generation of women and girls to stand tall and #BurnBright in everything they do. Some members of the Liberty will be wearing custom sea foam and orange laces for the playoffs to support the movement, and in arena, New York will be debuting a #BurnBright commercial directed by Spike Lee, empowering girls to chase their dreams.